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Pensacola News Journal: Iran deal puts our security at risk

Monday, September 28, 2015

Those of us who make it a point to stay up-to-date on foreign affairs are taking great interest in the Iran deal that is aimed at stopping the volatile country from developing nuclear weapons.

One of the main sanctions the United States lifted in the deal was allowing Iran to export more goods, chief in importance to the country being oil. Not only does allowing Iran to sell oil to a broader global audience improve Iran’s economy, it puts American companies at a distinct disadvantage on the market. Perhaps more importantly to America, it puts our national security at risk.

The ban on U.S. crude oil was put in place in the 1970s at a time when there was a shortage of oil.

Fast forward to 2015 and the United States is in the middle of an energy revolution, where the country is producing more natural gas and oil than it has in decades and has established itself as an energy powerhouse. We have enough energy that we are able to continue developing new technologies and new sources of energy to supplement traditional fossil fuels. This is good for our economy and we ought to be using that strength to our full advantage.

The United States has an abundance of “light, sweet” crude it currently can’t sell to its allies, while the country needs “sour” crude oil from other countries. So, even with the ban lifted, importing oil is necessary. With the country better able to market its goods globally, America will have more of an influence on oil production and pricing, giving us less of a reason to send our soldiers into conflict.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas last year wrote that if the crude export ban were removed, it would increase U.S. oil prices due to the introduction of new product on the global market. This would lead to increased U.S. production, which would result in the lowering of gasoline and diesel fuel costs for consumers.

But allowing countries such as Iran, Russia, Iraq, Venezuela and other oil-producing countries with unfriendly leaders to retain control of the oil market is a step in the wrong direction and potentially puts us at risk. Why should American companies be economically punished while a known enemy is allowed to benefit?

A group I represent – Vets4Energy – believes there is a clear nexus between energy security and national security, which is why we push policymakers to consider the military and national security with decisions they make on energy. That’s why we call for the crude ban to be lifted. Let’s let American companies influence the foreign market rather than allowing our enemies to harm our economy.

The ban is more than 40 years old and was established because OPEC nations were trying to harm the United States through the influence of their oil. And it worked. We were panicked and our economy took a hit as a result.

The United States now has the ability to flex its energy muscle to the benefit of our economy and our national security. We know Iran will soon be flooding the global market with its oil – some experts believe they may have 20 to 40 million barrels of oil on ships ready to be exported now. Congress has been debating legislation that would lift the ban. Lawmakers should find common sense and do what is in the best interest of our nation.

Cmdr. Tom Garcia (Ret. USN) is volunteer co-chair of Vets4Energy in Florida and lives in Lake Worth.

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